We the People, one of the White House’s cornerstone open government initiatives, is 10% a sham. The site promises to respond to petitions posted by users if the petition reaches a certain number of signatures within 30 days. Nextgov reported earlier in the year that the White House was not keeping its end of the pledge. It’s true. More than 10% of petitions that deserve an answer go unanswered.
The threshold for a White House response has gone up steadily as the popularity of We The People has increased. In 2012 the threshold was 25,000 signatures within 30 days, and now the threshold is 100,000. Except when it isn’t. Of the 217 petitions that gathered enough signatures for a response, 29 have gone unanswered.
The full list of petitions that the White House owes a response to are below.
Two of those petitions hit close to home for the open government movement. In early 2013, Aaron Swartz, an early leader of the open government movement, committed suicide while under investigation for downloading research papers without permission. Two petitions (1, 2) were submitted shortly after his death calling for the firing of attorneys believed to be over-zealous in their prosecution of Swartz. The petitions each gathered more than the then-threshold of 25,000 signatures, but more than one year and 89,733 signatures later there has been no response.
The earliest of the petitions still “pending response,” according to the White House’s own data, is a petition which has now reached ten times the (early) 5,000 signature threshold. It is a petition about GMO food labeling. Another petition, at 211,925 signatures today (181,479 in its first 30 days), created in July 2013 asked the White House to declare the Muslim Brotherhood party in Egypt a terrorist organization. It remains not responded to as well.
The White House has posted 156 responses to 225 petitions since the site launched in September 2011. 2,916 petitions have been created in all. The most successful petition, by number of signatures, was one created in December 2012 asking the White House to recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group. It gathered 367,180 signatures and in July 2013 received a response to the effect that the White House does not maintain a list of hate groups — demonstrating that, of course, getting a response does not mean getting the response the petitioners wanted.
h/t and thanks to @konklone for mentioning this to me a long long while ago.
Okay here’s the list, in order of number of signatures gathered. The date before each is the date the petition was created, and so it met its threshold 30 days later.
07/07/13: Declare Muslim Brotherhood organization as a terrorist group (211,925 signatures; 181,479 in 30 days)
06/09/13: Pardon Edward Snowden (161,395 signatures; 129,312 in 30 days)
05/03/13: Invest and deport Jasmine Sun who was the main suspect of a famous Thallium poison murder case (victim:Zhu Lin) in China (151,169 signatures; 148,285 in 30 days)
05/13/14: put sanctions on China for invading Vietnam territory with the deployment of oil rig Haiyang 981. (139,216 signatures; 138,878 in 30 days)
06/05/13: allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states. (138,379 signatures; 110,384 in 30 days)
12/11/13: Remove offensive state in Glendale, CA public park (129,170 signatures; 123,629 in 30 days)
05/01/14: Demand Release of U.S.M.C. Sgt. Tahmooressi Suffering with PTSD from Mexico Imprisonment (128,770 signatures; 115,889 in 30 days)
04/25/14: Urge S. Korean Government & Press to Stop the Attack Against Church in the Aftermath of Ferry Tragedy (119,369 signatures; 117,749 in 30 days)
08/22/13: Stop SOPA 2013 (118,905 signatures; 106,486 in 30 days)
05/15/13: Provide necessary assistance to prevent Taiwanese people from being murdered by Philippines and rebuild friendship. (115,676 signatures; 113,330 in 30 days)
02/17/14: Stop SOPA 2014. (112,293 signatures; 104,184 in 30 days)
11/12/13: Reform ECPA: Tell the Government to Get a Warrant (112,087 signatures; 105,236 in 30 days)
04/12/12: Support mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods (GMOs). (110,784 signatures; 30,740 in 30 days)
02/26/14: Allow Ukrainian Citizens 90 day entrance into the USA on passport, without Visa. (107,909 signatures; 103,037 in 30 days)
01/04/14: Please Protect The Peace Monument in Glendale Central Library (106,751 signatures; 105,390 in 30 days)
02/27/14: Urge the FDA to Say YES to Accelerated Approval for safe, effective therapies for children with Duchenne. (106,734 signatures; 105,036 in 30 days)
04/23/14: Designate Russia as “State Sponsor of Terrorism” (104,914 signatures; 103,722 in 30 days)
03/21/14: Legally Recognize Non-Binary Genders (103,166 signatures; 101,494 in 30 days)
09/23/11: Require all Genetically Modified Foods to be labeled as such. (64,311 signatures; 8,747 in 30 days)
01/12/13: Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz. (60,881 signatures; 52,466 in 30 days)
05/10/12: Remove the monument and not to support any international harassment related to this issue against the people of Japan. (47,477 signatures; 31,473 in 30 days)
06/21/12: Repeal the House of Representatives Resolution 121 to stop aggravating int’l harassment by Korean propaganda & lies! (46,012 signatures; 27,623 in 30 days)
09/01/12: Persuade South Korea (the ROK) to accept Japan’s proposal on territorial dispute over islets. (42,015 signatures; 30,213 in 30 days)
12/28/12: To award the Medal of Freedom to the 4 Firefighters who were ambushed in West Webster New York on Christmas Eve 2012 (34,067 signatures; 29,322 in 30 days)
12/02/12: Investigate and publicly condemn organ harvesting from Falun Gong believers in China (33,733 signatures; 28,624 in 30 days)
01/08/13: Invite Neal Boortz, the author of The FairTax Book, to spend one hour talking with the President about tax reform. (32,155 signatures; 28,191 in 30 days)
12/11/12: oppose the petition created by xHisa Axon Japanxs proposal to take Japanxs claim over Dokdo (or Takeshima) to the ICJ. (31,609 signatures; 28,959 in 30 days)
01/12/13: Fire Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Heymann. (28,854 signatures; 25,717 in 30 days)
12/29/12: There are election rigging made by Progressive Program that have been used in the 18th Presidential Election of S. KOREA (26,797 signatures; 25,467 in 30 days)